Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tuolumne Meadows to Upper Lyell Forks

11.99 Miles
367m Ascent 

After yesterday’s day off (despite it raining) I was feeling pretty fresh.  It had been fairly cold overnight with a nice layer of frost and a morning temperature of a degree or two above freezing.  The Zpacks Solplex had stood up to the rain with no issues, though having a bear locker (campground) meant that I had my rucksack well undercover. 
I was on the trail pretty early and there was plenty of frost in the shade.  I thought the slight chill in the air was perfect!  Which shows how much I had been overheating.  Beginning from the campground the path follows the edge of the Lyell creek, a gorgeously clear river. 

Most of the day would be pretty flat and my general speed reflected the terrain.  I was averaging above 2mph and feeling pretty good.  I had time to relax and sit on a rock!  The canyon is quiet and pretty special.   
The river slowly winds along the valley bottom, and is the clearest water you will have ever seen.   A few spots have perfect natural swimming holes and with the water levels as they are would be pretty safe.  

The trail climbs slowly over around 10/11 miles, gaining less the 100m, before a steep end to the day.  Up until this point I had felt good but yet again as soon as the path got reasonably steep I found myself running out of ‘power’ very easily.  I was again reduced to walking a few metres, having a breather then carrying on.  

The last mile and 200 metres of ascent probably took an hour.  I had 2 options to camp at the Upper Lyell fork crossings, my pace and how I was feeling dictated that I stopped at the lower one.  Ideally I would have carried on around another 100m higher, just to make the next day’s assault (!) on Donahue Pass slightly easier.   

The camping sport was just after a wooden bridge crossing the Lyell creek.  It was a well-used popular spot but it was still easy to find a secluded spot.   I took around an hour to rest before sorting out my gear and tent.  Boy I was knackered! 

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